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This is a Guardian and New Statesman Book of the Year. The setting is a comedy club in a small Israeli town. An audience that has come expecting an evening of amusement instead sees a comedian falling apart on stage; an act of disintegration, a man crumbling, as a matter of choice, before their eyes. They could get up and leave, or boo and whistle and drive him from the stage, if they were not so drawn to glimpse his personal hell. Dovaleh G, a veteran stand-up comic - charming, erratic, repellent - exposes a wound he has been living with for years: a fateful and gruesome choice he had to make between the two people who were dearest to him. A Horse Walks into a Bar is a shocking and breathtaking read. Betrayals between lovers, the treachery of friends, guilt demanding redress. Flaying alive both himself and the people watching him, Dovaleh G provokes both revulsion and empathy from an audience that doesn't know whether to laugh or cry - and all this in the presence of a former childhood friend who is trying to understand why he's been summoned to this performance.
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What Reviewers Are Saying
"This is a virtuoso piece of writing, a whirlwind of laughter and tears that sucks you in and makes you holds your breath." -- John Harding Daily Mail "A writerly tour de force that would be unbearably painful, were it not also so generously humane." -- Lucy Hughes-Hallett New Statesman, Book of the Year "A short, shocking masterpiece." -- Adam Lively Sunday Times "David Grossman tells a story that is so emotional that you feel obliged to look away from time to time or to even put away the book once in a while so you can breathe again and so you can prepare yourself for the next confrontation with yourself and the world around you." De Morgen "David Grossman's new novel runs on a high voltage line, operated by a frantic, mesmerising and almost unbearable energy. An ongoing feeling of astonishment accompanies you throughout the read, and it is linked to Grossman's bravado and to his innovation as a storyteller... A Horse Walks into a Bar...is unlike anything Grossman has written, or anything I have read. It is a packed explosive, multi-resonant, daring and exciting." -- Omri Herzog Ha'aretz "Grossman's new novel depicts a cruel demeaning stand-up act...and yet this is not a book about the violence of man but rather on the human inside - and this is what turns Grossman to a truly great author." -- Nurit Gertz Walla! "A fine Israeli writer... It takes an author of Mr Grossman's stature to channel not a failed stand-up but a shockingly effective one." The Economist "Grossman's new novel is a...bravura performance... This remarkable book, rendered into English by Grossman's veteran translator Jessica Cohen, teases the reader as nakedly as the comedian does his crowd. On every page, we encounter an implied invitation to set the book down but the performer's struggle to muffle and at the same time release the howls from his soul is too profoundly haunting." -- Stoddard Martin Jewish Chronicle "With masterly control and brilliant timing (it's not easy to write stand-up, let alone translate it into another language, as Jessica Cohen has done so well here) Grossman has Dovaleh tell his life story, starting with the night of his conception... It may be Grossman's finest novel yet." -- Fiammetta Rocco 1843Magazine "With this raw and fiercely emotional book Grossman, one of Israel's finest writers, steps into tricky new territory." -- Lee Langley Spectator "Much of it is extremely funny, but it's also tightly controlled and carefully paced... Few writers hold a more unflinching mirror up to Israeli society than Grossman... [A Horse Walks into a Bar] is a work of sombre brilliance and disquieting rage, an unsparing exploration of the seductive spell of escapism and "the corruption that is in cynicism." -- Rebecca Abrams Financial Times "Unless pop lyricists have the lock on the Novel prize in literature from now on, then a leading future candidate must be David Grossman." -- Mark Lawson Guardian, Book of the Year "An unexpected delight... This is a novel, for our new Age." -- Ian Sansom Guardian "A Horse Walks into a Bar is a delight." -- Gabriel Josipovici Times Literary Supplement "A bold, very different work." -- Eileen Battersby Irish Times, Book of the Year